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St. Louis city and county forming regional prescription drug database

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Updated May 31 with bill signing — St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay went to St. Louis County today to sign the bill setting up the city's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. The bill allows the city and county to work together to form a cohesive system. The mayor and county Executive Steve Stenger are pledging to bring down drug overdoses.

Prescription drug monitoring programs allow doctors to check if their patients have recently been prescribed narcotics. Forty-nine other states and the District of Columbia have introduced the databases statewide, but efforts to do that in Missouri have stalled in the state Senate for years over privacy concerns, raised mainly by Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf, of St. Joseph.

Updated May 13 with initial vote — The St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Friday gave initial approval to a measure that creates a regional prescription drug database with St. Louis County.

"It seems pretty much like a no-brainer to me, considering we have 49 other states that have done this," said the sponsor, Alderman Lyda Krewson, D-28th Ward. "It's kind of embarrassing to me, frankly, that our state won't do it. But we won't."

May 5 article: The city of St. Louis is one step closer to joining St. Louis County in creating a regional prescription drug database doctors can check to see to see if their patients have already been prescribed narcotics recently elsewhere.

The Board of Aldermen’s Health and Human Services Committee Thursday unanimously approved a bill that would allow St. Louis to partner with St. Louis County.

Bill sponsor Lyda Krewson said she wanted to take action on the measure now in the hope that it would motivate state lawmakers to pass a statewide version of the bill.

“It’s mind-boggling that we have to do this city by city or county by county. But if that helps, and that begins to provide the information, so be it,” said Krewson.

Every state but Missouri has created a prescription drug monitoring program as a tool to fight the opioid epidemic.

A statewide version of the prescription drug monitoring billis awaiting debate in the Senate but faces strong opposition.

The city’s prescription drug monitoring database bill could get a final vote from the Board of Aldermen as early as May 13.

Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.

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Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.